June 21, 2024

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Summer Travel Tips from Experts for a Stress-Free Flight

5 min read

The amount of people traveling this summer is about to be higher than the scorching hot temperature. We’re talking about record-breaking numbers here. 

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for leading US airlines, just released its air travel predictions for the summer. According to the forecast, US airlines will welcome 271 million passengers across the globe between June 1 and August 3, which is a 6.3% increase from last summer. It is also a new record, surpassing the one set by summer 2023 with 255 million passengers transported.

“US airlines are excited to fly a record number of travelers this summer,” Rebecca Spicer, A4A Senior Vice President of Communications, said in a statement. “Our carriers have adjusted their schedules to adapt to current realities of our National Airspace System (NAS), helping to alleviate some of those pressure points and making for a smooth summer travel season.”US airlines have been doing their part to make the busy travel season as stress-free as possible. According to A4A’s report, US carriers are set to offer more flights this summer, for 26,000 scheduled daily flights, which is almost 1,400 more than last summer’s daily average.

However, a stress-free air travel experience doesn’t only depend on the airline you’re traveling with. To help you get through the busy air travel season, we asked Katy Nastro, travel expert at Going, for the best advice on how to navigate some of the most stressful parts related to air travel, including when booking the actual flight and the airport parking for your car, how to deal with weather, and so on. Make sure to read before you go, and most importantly, enjoy your much-deserved vacation!

Don’t book your flights at the last minute

“Many folks think waiting until the last minute will mean airlines slash prices to fill seats,” says Nastro. “But quite the opposite is true. We tend to see airfare go upward the closer we look to fly.”

Nastro actually advises booking peak season domestic flights between three and seven months ahead, while you should book international trips four to 10 months out. That way, you’ll find yourself in a prime position. “This doesn’t mean a great flight deal can’t pop up at the last minute,” explains Nastro. “But the odds are less so.”

Don’t book a flight less than 21 days in advance

While this may seem like a random suggestion, it isn’t. As Nastro explains, many cheap airfare prices can skyrocket due to a hidden rule.

“Many fares have an advance purchase requirement written in the fine print that says this cheapest fare is only available if it’s booked at least 21 days before travel,” explains Nastro. “On day 20, the previously cheapest fare disappears, and the new ‘cheapest’ fare can be $100 or $200 more expensive.”

Keep monitoring airfare prices even after booking your flight

We get it—with the air travel season expected to be this busy and stressful, all you want to do is purchase your flights and never think about it again. However, Nastro strongly encourages you to keep it at the top of your mind because you might make money from it.

“Airfare is volatile, and it has the potential to drop if booked far enough in advance,” Nastro explains. “Book a main economy ticket so you can take advantage of the fact that full-service airlines don’t charge change fees and rather issue a credit for the ticket.”

If you’re still confused, let us help you. Say you purchase a flight ticket with a full-service airline for $300. If after a couple of weeks, you see that the price for the same exact ticket for the same exact flight now costs $200, you can request a change of ticket with the airline (which usually doesn’t involve a fee), and you’ll receive a $100 credit to use another time. So turn on those price alerts and get your savings. 

Purchase a checked bag in advance

Don’t let procrastination get you on this one because your wallet will suffer the consequences. Not many people know that many airlines will actually charge you heftier checked bag fees if you purchase a checked bag directly at the airport versus doing so online beforehand.

“This is especially true if you are flying with budget carriers notorious for cranking up bag fees closer to takeoff,” warns Nastro. “Sometimes charging more than double the price at the gate.”

Monitor the weather forecast ahead of your flight

According to experts, weather is the number one cause of flight delays and cancellations, so it’s essential to consider it. Weather-related phenomena can truly disrupt your flight, and it’s important to stay on top of it whether you have a direct or connecting flight.

“Monitoring your flight a few days in advance is never a bad idea, especially if you have a connection,” explains Nastro. “If you are worried about the weather in that connecting city affecting your travel plans, call the airline and see if they can reroute you through one of their other hubs to avoid a hiccup altogether.”

Pay your airport parking spot ahead of time

When possible, this is a helpful hack to save you some time and, most importantly, help you avoid unnecessary stress. And as Nastro points out, pre-paying for parking can also help reduce costs. You should aim to do so at least 24 hours before departure.

Some websites can help you find the best price available for off-airport parking. Way.com is one of them. However, Nastro warns you to be careful. “Be mindful that the parking lots may not come with the same level of security or coverage from the elements but they definitely can be more affordable than on-premise parking,” she says.

Be mindful of the traffic forecast before you hit the road

“There is no single best source for checking road traffic before a trip,” says Nastro. “However, understanding estimated traffic times before scheduling a rideshare or hitting the road yourself can help ensure you have enough time to head to the airport.”

She does, however, have one helpful tip to share. Before leaving for your journey,  do a quick Google Maps search and select the “Remind me to leave on time” toggle at the very bottom. That way, you’ll schedule a reminder that considers traffic conditions, and you’ll be sure to leave on time for the airport for a stress-free experience.

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